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Slant 12-12-2013

• Eugene’s mayor says Whoville is here to stay through the holidays — or, at least, the city has no plans to disperse the homeless camps before the City Council reconvenes Jan. 13. But the council’s refusal to officially approve four emergency rest stops before its monthlong vacation irked protesters, who say they’ve been harassed by police at the sites and want the council’s protection through the break. “I’m very used to this city saying they’re going to do one thing to look good in public, and then doing the opposite,” SLEEPS activist Jean Stacey says, citing Occupy evictions and the 2011 Egan-like warming center that was supposed to exist for the winter but only lasted two days. “I have no confidence.”

• Kudos to Egan Warming Centers, Occupy, SLEEPS, Whoville and more who have been working hard to keep people warm. We’re blown away by the volunteer efforts we’ve seen — Occupy Medical couldn’t open because of the snow this weekend, but volunteers went around and gave medical attention where needed.  Everyone needs a safe place to sleep and access to health care. As a city and as a county, we can do more. Please donate to these groups. Socks, warm clothes and blankets are needed.

Weird press release of the week: Speaking of Egan Warming Centers, Lane County sent out a press release announcing “Four commissioners donate office funds to Egan Warming Centers.” That’s great, and $4,000 will come in handy given the hundreds of people Egan has been helping with this cold snap (-10 degrees? WTF?), but the holiday cheer of the donation looks a little Grinchy, when it seems that the fifth commissioner, Pete Sorenson, wasn’t asked to be in on the effort. Sorenson says it would appear the decision was made in sequential private meetings. We’ve asked the county to clarify just what happened, but haven’t heard back. Sorenson is known for his support of public services and the homeless, and has spoken up again and again for underfunded county services that help those in need. Please play nice, Lane County.

Climate strikes back! We are reminded that cities in the Great Lakes region, Montana, Alaska and other chilly places take such weather in stride, but wimpy Eugene gets paralyzed by a little cold, snow and ice. Local governments haven’t been able to justify having a lot of snow removal equipment because we’ve never had that much snow. This is an opportunity to examine our resilience, or lack thereof. Nature is pissed and who knows what’s coming next. Paranoid survivalists go to extremes to prepare for catastrophe, but reasonable people make reasonable plans. Get to know your neighbors. Who has a snow shovel, chain saw or extra diapers? Who has medical training? Who has a wood stove and keeps a well-stocked bar? If you’re a smoker, who nearby stocks up by the carton or kilo?

Many events and parties were canceled due to the snow and ice and some cannot be rescheduled this close to the holidays, while others have been moved (see Biz Beat). But even more holiday hijinks are going on these next weekends. We hear the Letter Carriers Food Drive did only half its usual collections Dec. 7, but the drive happens again this Saturday. City Club canceled its program last Friday but will be back at the Hilton Friday to talk about one of our favorite topics, O&C forestlands. Fun fact of the day: Eugene’s snow removal policy is not “bare pavement,” it’s to give the streets enough traction for a reasonable driver. Looks like drivers got more reasonable after Friday and its almost 300 car accident-induced 911 calls.

• It’s good to see Mayor Kitty Piercy is back with her Home for the Holidays fundraising campaign, with the intention to raise $40,000 to help 40 families who currently cannot afford moving-in costs. The families who will benefit are those who are working or have some income, and have gone through St. Vincent de Paul programs. For these families, $1,000 can make it possible to get into hopefully permanent housing. 

• An Auburn football fan we know, also a Duck follower now and then, scoffs at the UO decision that Pharaoh Brown can’t play in the Alamo Bowl because of his part in a snowball fight on campus that was videotaped and went viral on YouTube. “Can’t your football players be kids like the rest of the crazy students?” Clearly, no. We are glad they got called out for bad behavior but maybe these guys should be pardoned rather than penalized. Their gig is violence playing on the field, so it’s not surprising they don’t always play well with others in the snow, and that violence gig is why we bring them to Eugene. Let him play!

• We support what Sen. Jeff Merkley is doing in Congress to try to end our long and counterproductive war in Afghanistan. Without congressional intervention through legislation the U.S. occupation could drag out until 2024 or longer. That’s what’s on the table in negotiations with Afghanistan’s so-called government. Meanwhile, the war has claimed 2,290 American lives, 19,514 U.S. troops have been wounded in action and the cost to date is nearly $680 billion. Merkley’s online petition to the White House to end the war can be found at wkly.ws/1n4. 

Nelson Mandela is being remembered and honored worldwide for his courage, persistence, grace and good humor, and we remember some of his astute comments on U.S. foreign policy. Mandela was one of the voices calling for restraint when President George Bush was planning to invade Iraq. CBS News quoted Mandela in 2003 saying “What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust. ... If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care.” Some of us, of course, do care. But our foreign policy has been atrocious for generations because most of our nation’s citizens don’t care enough to pay attention.